The closer you get to your race, the harder it is to make improvements in your fitness that will carry over to a faster race time. To get faster it takes weeks, or months, of race-specific training. However, during the last few weeks before your race, and also on race day, there are a few things you can do to improve your race time. So at this point stop trying to cram in speed workouts and extra miles, and instead shift your focus to these strategies!
3 Last Minute Ways to Improve Your Race Time
By the end of your training cycle you have put in the work, and running more mileage or harder workouts may only leave you more fatigued for race day. Instead of letting any doubts about your training creep in, shift your focus to tapering well. For a half-marathon your taper should be about 10-14 days, and for a marathon it will be about 2-3 weeks.
Rather than just thinking of the taper as a time when you are running less, remember that you are reducing your volume to recover while continuing to sharpen your running to prepare for your race. During the last few days of the taper the lower mileage will also allow you to focus on storing carbs for your race as you increase your carb intake while running less miles.
A properly executed taper can result in a significantly improved race time and performance, so don’t neglect this part of your training!
Fuel Properly Before and During your Race
Hopefully throughout your training cycle you have paid attention to what works or doesn’t work for you in terms of fueling. You will want to increase your carb intake in the days leading up to your race, but definitely pay attention to what you eat the night before and on race morning. Stick with foods you have eaten during your training cycle and that have worked well for you. Nothing new on race day!
During your race, stick to your fueling plan. Ideally, you will want to take fuel every 30-45 minutes (which may sound like a lot, so again, do what worked for you during training!) Figure out if you will be able to take water on the course or if you need to carry your own. Make sure you use gear you are used to for carrying your fuel and fluids. Try to avoid planning to take gels from the course in case they run out or have something you have never used before.
Focus on your Mental Race Strategies
Rather than allow your race day nerves to get the best of you, work on your mental race day strategies! Things like positive self-talk, mantras, and visualization are really helpful in staying focused on race day. When the race gets tough, being able to use positive self-talk can mean the difference between giving up or pushing through.
It’s important to prepare yourself to use these strategies by practicing them before your race. It can be really hard to pick a mantra when you are already struggling in a race. During the days leading up to the race work on visualization by picturing everything about your race, from lining up at the start line, to the hardest miles when you want to give up, to the moment you cross the finish line. Practice using positive self-talk and your mantras too during this process.
What do you focus on right before a race to help you feel prepared?
Do you have a fueling strategy that works for you?
Do you you think any of these strategies would help you with an improved race time?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner and Runs with Pugs to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.